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Chicago v. National Management

SEPTEMBER 14, 1959.

CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, APPELLANT,

v.

NATIONAL MANAGEMENT, INC., APPELLEE. CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, APPELLANT,

v.

HARVEY AMSTERDAM, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Municipal Court of Chicago; the Hon. GEORGE L. QUILICI, Judge, presiding. Reversed and remanded.

JUSTICE MCCORMICK DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

The City of Chicago filed separate ordinance enforcement suits against National Management, Inc. and Harvey Amsterdam as the owners of certain cubicle hotels, seeking fines for the violation of an ordinance requiring the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in such described hotels. By order of court the cases were consolidated and so proceeded to judgment. The case was tried without a jury. The trial court found that the ordinance was inapplicable to the defendants' hotels and discharged the defendants. From that judgment this appeal is taken.

The two buildings involved are the Legion Hotel, 18-22 South DesPlaines Street, Chicago, and the Workingman's Palace Hotel, 623 West Madison Street, Chicago. Both hotels are located in a district largely populated by transients and derelicts. The Legion Hotel is a four-story building, the upper three floors of which contain 194 sleeping cubicles on each floor — a total of about 580 cubicles. The Workingman's Palace Hotel is a six-story building, the upper five floors of which contain 104 sleeping cubicles on each floor — a total of about 530 cubicles. The buildings are constructed of poured reinforced concrete, and stairs and elevator are enclosed in fireproof enclosures with metal automatic doors on each floor. Fire exits, fire escapes, fire extinguishers, fire pails, emergency telephones and manual fire alarms are provided. The first floor consists of a lobby with wooden chairs and benches. The basement contains laundry facilities and heating plant, and clothing is scattered over a large area in the basement. In each hotel the cubicles are separated from one another by walls which are about four feet from the ceiling and about three inches from the floor. These walls provide fire resistance of not less than one hour, which is the standard fire resistance specified by the Municipal Code of Chicago. The only combustible materials in the cubicles, when unoccupied, are the mattress, bedding, pillow, door and wooden chairs. The walls are painted and the paint would not burn except at a very high temperature. When occupied, additional combustible materials consisting of clothing, newspapers, magazines, cigar boxes and other items are brought into the cubicles and kept there by the guests. The buildings are in good condition and presently enjoy the lowest fire insurance rate for cubicle hotels in Chicago. If automatic sprinkler systems were installed in the hotels the insurance rates would decrease about one-third on the building and about one-half on the contents.

The first question to be determined is whether or not the ordinance of the City of Chicago requiring the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in cubicle hotels is applicable to the hotels maintained by the defendants, and in order to determine that question it is necessary to construe the applicable ordinances.

Section 96-1 of the Municipal Code of Chicago defines "lodging house" as "any house or building, or portion thereof, in which persons are harbored, received, or lodged for hire for a single night or for less than a week at one time, or any part of which is let for any person to sleep in for any term less than a week." Chapter 64 of the Municipal Code, entitled "Fire Extinguishing Apparatus," provides in section 64-1.2: "Automatic sprinkler systems shall be provided in the following buildings and areas: . . . (g) On or before January 1, 1956, in every existing or pre-ordinance building used in whole or in part as a hotel which does not comply with section 52-2 (a) of this code." Section 52-2 (a) provides:

"In all Multiple Dwellings every dwelling unit shall be separated from all other parts of the building by walls or partitions of non-combustible construction, or of construction consisting of wood studs with metal lath and plaster, or an equivalent non-combustible surface material, or with perforated gypsum board and plaster, or an equivalent non-combustible surface material, and shall provide fire resistance of not less than one hour."

Section 65-2 defines "fire resistance" as the ability to withstand fire or give protection from it for given periods under prescribed test conditions.

Chapter 78.1 of the Municipal Code of Chicago is entitled "Men's Cubicle Hotels." Section 78.1-1 defines "men's cubicle hotels" as including "all lodging houses exclusively maintained for men, containing sleeping stalls the separating partitions of which do not reach the ceiling." Section 78.1-2 provides that "every existing building, structure or part thereof and every building hereafter erected, as herein defined, shall comply with the requirements of this chapter." Section 78.1-3 provides that "all lodging houses falling within this classification shall conform with all the provisions of this code except the following: Sections . . . 52-2(a)." Section 78.1-6 provides: "All men's cubicle hotels, as herein defined, shall comply in all respects with the provisions of section 64-1.2(g)." There is a further provision in the chapter providing for penalties for violations of the provisions of the code.

The defendants' contention is that the ordinance providing for automatic sprinkler systems is only applicable to buildings used in whole or in part as a hotel which does not comply with section 52-2(a) of the Code, and that such section provides that in all multiple dwellings every dwelling unit shall be separate from all other parts of the building by walls or partitions of non-combustible construction which shall provide fire resistance of not less than one hour, and that in the cases before us the defendants had walls separating the cubicles of non-combustible construction which had a fire resistance of not less than one hour. The city urges that the walls and partitions referred to in section 52-2(a) do not "separate" the units unless the walls or partitions extend from the floor to the ceiling, and furthermore that section 52-2(a) has no application to the case by the very terms of the ordinance.

It is conceded by the defendants that the city council has power to provide by ordinance for the installation of sprinkler systems except insofar as that power is limited by the constitutional requirements that the exercise thereof be in a reasonable and uniform manner and that it promote the general safety and general welfare of the public, and they urge that the only question before this court is the applicability of the ordinance under the factual situation here present.

It is apparent that the city council, in enacting chapter 78.1 of the Municipal Code of Chicago, intended to enact a comprehensive ordinance covering men's hotels in which the sleeping stalls were separated by partitions which did not reach the ceiling. The provisions dealing with fire extinguishing apparatus in section 64-1.2 were applicable to every hotel which failed to comply with section 52-2(a), which provided for the separation of each dwelling unit in multiple dwellings from all other parts of the building by walls and partitions of non-combustible construction of a designated fire resistance. In section 78.1-3 cubicle hotels are not required to conform to that section (52.2(a)) of the Code.

Chapter 78.1 of the Municipal Code of Chicago must be interpreted to mean that all men's cubicle hotels which are lodging houses exclusively maintained for men and which contain sleeping stalls the separating partitions of which do not reach the ceiling shall in accordance with section 64.1-2 provide automatic sprinkler systems, and the exception contained in section 64-1.2(g) of those hotels which comply with section 52-2(a) providing for fireproof walls and partitions is specifically eliminated from chapter 78.1. Consequently sprinkler systems must be installed in all cases in hotels defined as cubicle hotels in that section. The section of the ordinance requiring the installation of a sprinkler system is applicable to the hotels owned and operated by the defendants in the cases before us.

In a recent case dealing with the principles of statutory construction, the Supreme Court, in Scofield v. Board of Education of Community Consol. School Dist. No. 181, 411 Ill. 11, says:

"It is a generally accepted principle of statutory construction, and has been so held by this court many times, that in construing a statute or determining its constitutionality, all its sections are to be construed together in the light of the general purpose and plan, the evil intended to be remedied, and the object to be obtained, and if the language is susceptible of more than one ...


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